This article from Madras historian Muthiah set my thinking going – http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/article3640377.ece
What if Clive had been defeated?
Muthiah says –
“you would find this column being written in French.
Not only that: you’d probably be entitled to a handsome allowance from the French government in case you are retired; your children would be getting a chance to study in France; you would be having access to some of the best wines in the world; you would be making annual trips to Paris — residents of Pondicherry who opted for French citizenship should be able to brief you better about the benefits.”
Let us think about the bigger picture had Clive lost….
– The French Revolution may never have happened. With colonies to plunder, the peasants would probably have found themselves rich pickings as colonial occupiers. No peasant discontent, no revolution.
– No Napolean! Only the French Revolution and its turmoil offered him a chance to establish himself. With his Corsican heritage, he would probably have been an able general and administrator in India, fighting Gurkhas, Sikhs and Burmese. He would have probably risen to high rank.
– No Napolean – decades of turmoil in Europe would have been avoided.
– No Louisiana purchase. The French were de-stabilized due to the slave revolt in Haiti, which meant loss of revenue from slavery and hence were forced to sell Louisiana to the US. With a wealth yielding colony like India, the French would never have faced such a fiscal difficulty.
– No Loiusana purchase = completely French US and Canada. We might have had a quaint North American region called New England where the inhabitants spoke English!
– We would all drive on the left-hand side of the road.
– Australia would have been French. The Fench reached Australia at about the same time as English, and at the same Botany Bay.
Of course, the outcome would not have been very different for indigenous peoples – American, Australian, African or Indian.
American and Australian Natives would have been exterminated anyway.
Africans would have been enslaved anyway
Indians would have been colonized and starved to death in famines anyway.
Some good would have come of it though – We’d be spared the British Royal wedding. Prince Charles would probably fetch his weekend groceries on a bicycle, like other North European royals.
Not sure if I want to see the residents of Chennai in berets though.
And to think it was all because of an opium-addled, womanizing Shropshire lad……..